I am extremely sceptical when it comes to healthy food “replacements”. To be honest, it downright infuriates me sometimes.
No, lettuce surely cannot replace bread, kale chips cannot possibly even come close to potato chips and there is no way in HELL zucchini noodles will EVER be a decent substitute for spaghetti. Ever. Put down that spiralizer. You aint fooling me with no zoodles.
So, naturally, when I heard the terms “cauliflower rice” and “cauliflower couscous”, I scoffed and snorted and dismissed them right away. Certainly, farty, stinky, smelly old cauliflower cannot replace my beloved rice. I don’t eat couscous much but that seemed highly unlikely too.
However, the concept kept popping up again and again, and two reasons made me decide to give it a shot.
Cauliflower is one hell of a nutritious veggie, one which I struggle to eat much of. It is very low in calories and has super cancer-fighting properties. I grew up thinking I hated it, and have been trying to find ways to love it lately, several of which were miserable failures.
As I have mentioned before, I have gained a few kilos so I am always looking for ways to reduce my carb intake, especially mid-week. Weekends are when I have carb fests. Sorry, not sorry.
So I kinda felt obliged to try it and so, still scoffing and grunting and with terribly low expectations, I headed to the grocery store and picked up a head of cauliflower. I was almost positive that this will end up being a gargantuan mistake and that I’m going to have some major explaining to do to Hamza (my husband/guinea pig).
I read a few recipes, decided that “couscous” seemed more appealing, and after grasping the (very simple) concept of how it works, I came up with my own trial recipe. I loaded it with other ingredients I know and love, took a deep breath, and hoped for the best.
Basically, you place the florets into a food processor, and pulse a few times until it crumbles into tiny bits that actually really do resemble couscous. Then you simply stir fry in a hot pan for a couple of minutes with all the add-ins your heart desires. Dead easy.
Well, let me tell you guys, this was just an absolute revelation. I was totally stunned. I will even go as far as saying that I actually PREFERRED it over the real thing. I know. I don’t believe me either.
It was so unbelievably fluffy and light and flavourful, and I literally had to stop every few moments as I was shovelling it down to look at Hamza and say “holy crap! We are NOT eating couscous! This is friggin’ cauliflower!!”. I may or may not have even gotten up a couple of times to perform my happy-dance. You know you’ve hit the jackpot when your carb-loving husband forgets that he is eating cauliflower. You know you’ve struck GOLD when he requests it again the following week.
This, ladies and gents, is an absolute game changer.
I like to serve this with simple grilled or roast chicken, and sometimes I cook some chicken breasts and slice them up then mix them into the “couscous” for a one-bowl super quick, super healthy and fuss-free dinner. This is a tremendously forgiving recipe; each time I changed up any of the ingredients, I still ended up with a mouth-wateringly delicious result.
I am so excited about this recipe, and utterly thrilled that it enables me to make cauliflower a much more regular part of my diet.
I don’t expect you to believe me, so I challenge you to try it and prove me wrong.
I can’t believe it’s not Couscous!
an ingenious way to eat more veggies, reduce carb and grain intake without compromising a drop of flavour!
Author: Noha Serageldin
Recipe type: Side
- • 1 head cauliflower
- • ½ cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
- • 1 400g can of cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or you can cook your own)
- • ½ cup raisins (or cranberries or currants)
- • ½ bunch of parsley or green onions (or both!), chopped
- • 4 tbsp. olive oil
- • ⅔ tsp. cinnamon
- • ½ tsp. paprika
- • ⅓ tsp. cumin
- • ⅓ tsp. coriander
- • Salt & pepper to taste
- Wash and dry the cauliflower very well. Cut into florets, discard stem and leaves. Place into a food processor, pulse several times until it crumbles and resembles couscous (refer to pics). Do not over-process or it will turn into puree. Set aside.
- In a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, pour in 1 tbsp. of olive oil and add the drained chickpeas. Add ⅓ tsp. of the cinnamon and toast for 3-4 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Heat the remaining 3 tbsp. of olive oil and add the cauliflower. Add the remaining spices, season with salt & pepper and cook, stirring frequently for 4-5 minutes. Stir through the raisins, chickpeas, almonds, parsley/green onions and serve immediately.
This is an extremely versatile and customizable recipe, so don’t feel restrained by my choice of add-ins. Feel free to change any of the spices, nuts, or herbs and even add in some cooked chicken/beef/shrimp and just follow the same basic principles.
Also, this keeps very well in fridge and reheats beautifully the next day.